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Wildlife tourism

World Animal Protection reveals the travel companies that continue to exploit wildlife
Close-up photo of the eye of a lion in captivity, through a wire fence

Main image: a lion in captivity, World Animal Protection

A new report revels companies like TUI Musement, GetYourGuide, Trip.com, AttractionTickets.com and Jet2holidays continue to exploit wildlife for profit, despite 84% of UK citizens saying tour operators should not sell activities that cause wild animals suffering.

Elephant riding, selfies with tiger cubs and swimming with dolphins were some of the cruel wildlife activities on offer by these travel brands, according to the Real Responsible Traveller report from World Animal Protection.

The study reviewed nine leading travel companies on their commitment to animal welfare and wildlife-friendly tourism, with the aim to help holiday makers plan a wildlife-friendly holiday.

Performing for entertainment

Thousands of wild animals every year are forced to perform for tourist entertainment or be subjects for tourist ‘experiences’ that are incredibly unnatural and stressful for them.

For example, elephants in entertainment are captured in the wild or born into captivity and taken from their mothers at an early age. They are then subjected to violent training regimes causing huge physical and psychological harm.

Dolphins used for entertainment are mostly bred in captivity – though some are still captured from the wild – and kept in barren tanks a tiny fraction of their natural home range, which creates huge distress for these wonderful animals.

What is responsible travel?

Travelling responsibly means never including captive wildlife entertainment or experiences on your itinerary and refusing to book your holiday with travel companies which may claim to offer responsible, sustainable travel, while continuing to profit from wild animal exploitation.

The report also shows the travel companies who have made significant positive steps for wildlife over recent years including Airbnb, and booking.com.

Expedia has improved in some areas, having stopped selling captive dolphin entertainment in 2021.

‘Holiday makers have made it clear; they don’t want tour operators selling animal suffering, but the reality is, suffering is still being sold under the guise of entertainment. Who you book your holiday with matters. TUI Musement, Jet2holidays, GetYourGuide Trip.com and Attraction Tickets.com are STILL exploiting captive wild animals.

‘World Animal Protection is urging responsible travellers to join us in challenging these companies to do better for animals. Real responsible travellers have the power to act and create lasting change for wild animals by refusing to support companies that still treat wild animals as commodities who they can exploit for profit.

For more information on how you can make a difference visit our Real Responsible Travel Page here.

‘We are also urging the UK government to take action by passing the Animals (Low Welfare Activities Abroad) Bill, which sees its second parliamentary reading take place on February 3rd. This important bill intends to stop the sale and advertising of activities abroad which involve low standards of welfare for animals.’

KATHERYN WISE
World Animal Protection, wildlife campaign manager

How companies were scored

The Real Responsible Traveller report builds on World Animal Protection’s 2020 Tracking the Travel Industry report, which assessed Airbnb, AttractionTickets.com, Booking.com, DER Touristik, Expedia, Flight Centre, GetYourGuide, Klook,  The Travel Corporation, Viator, Trip.com and TUI Musement.    

World Animal Protection commissioned the University of Surrey, which independently analysed the public commitments travel companies have, and haven’t, made.  

Companies were scored across four key areas: commitment (the availability and quality of published animal welfare policies and how applicable they are to all their brands), targets and performance (the availability and scope of published time-bound targets and reports on progress towards meeting animal welfare commitments), changing industry supply (the availability and quality of engagement with suppliers and the overall industry to implement wildlife-friendly changes) and changing consumer demand (the availability and quality of educational animal welfare content and tools to empower consumers to make wildlife-friendly travel choices).

World Animal Protection then checked to see if they offered any of the five ‘animal attractions’:  elephant rides, feeding and washing; feeding or petting primates; selfies, shows, petting or walking with big cats ; swimming with captive dolphins and dolphin shows; the sale of any interactive ‘experiences’ involving any captive wild animals (including for example sea lions, crocodiles and alligators).

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